Opinion writer

* Emily Davies and Felicia Sonmez report that something unusual happened in Congress today:

For the first time in more than a decade, members of Congress on Wednesday reckoned with the legacy of slavery and the role of reparations in correcting what many called “the original sin.”

The hearing of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties included testimony from Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), writer Ta-Nehisi Coates and actor Danny Glover, among others.

Booker, who is running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, called on the country to engage in an active discussion about slavery and its implications on injustices rampant in the United States to this day — from the disparities in education to the violence that plagues many black communities.

“I look at communities like mine, and you can literally see how communities were designed to be segregated, designed based on enforcing institutional racism,” he said. Booker later called H.R. 40, the bill before the panel, a “historic opportunity to break the silence, to speak to the ugly past and talk constructively about how we will move this nation forward.”

This is what happens when control of Congress changes hands: We start to seriously consider things the other party didn’t want to talk about.

* Lisa Rein reports that the Trump administration’s effort to destroy the federal government is proceeding apace:

The Trump administration is threatening to furlough — and possibly lay off — 150 employees at the federal personnel agency if Congress blocks its plan to eliminate the department.

The Office of Personnel Management is preparing to send the career employees home without pay starting on Oct. 1, according to an internal briefing document obtained by The Washington Post. The employees could formally be laid off after 30 days, administration officials confirmed.

The warning of staff cuts is the administration’s most dramatic move yet in an escalating jujitsu between Trump officials and Congress over the fate of the agency that manages the civilian federal workforce of 2.1 million.

Even as House Democrats and some Republicans signal that Congress is not going to break up the 5,565-employee department, the administration is moving forward in defiance. Trump appointees paint a dire picture of a corner of the government in financial free fall and failing to carry out its mission. They want a commitment from Congress by June 30 to agree to disband the agency — or they say they will be forced to trim the staff.

It’s not like we need people to oversee a workforce of 2 million, right?

* David Drucker reports that even some Republicans are worried that Trump’s 2020 strategy of appealing only to the base could be dangerous.

* A national Monmouth University poll shows Joe Biden still in the lead, but Elizabeth Warren rising to a virtual tie for second with Bernie Sanders.

* Jonathan Bernstein explains why all Trump’s rallies have done nothing to make his reelection more likely.

* A nice catch by Steve Benen, who notes that even Donald Trump can’t come up with an argument for why people should believe anything he says.

* Timothy O’Brien compares Trump’s 2015 campaign launch with last night’s, and finds that Trump has nothing new to say at all. This is a risk: Voters know what a disaster he is now.

* Naomi Jagoda reports that a liberal group is mounting a campaign to press Rep. Richard Neal to get his behind in gear on getting Trump’s tax returns, which for some reason Neal seems in no hurry to do.

* Jennifer Bendery reports on the anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ, 42-year-old judge the senate just confirmed to a lifetime appointment.

* Helaine Olen examines the double standards female leaders like Elizabeth Warren are subjected to.

* Andy Kroll uncovers the Trump Leadership Council, the group of corporate bigshots who are guiding Trump’s deregulatory bonanza.

* And Frances Robles and Jim Rutenberg have the amazing story of Donald Trump, Michael Cohen, Jerry Falwell Jr., and the mysterious pool boy — yes, pool boy — who ties them all together.